Picture Books You’ll Like

Posted June 23, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Picture Books

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Here are a few of the books I’ve enjoyed during the month of June. See what you think.

Viking in Love

Stig is a Viking who is afraid of the sea. One day, he sees Ingrid, a fearless Viking with the sweetest voice he’s ever heard. Before he can say anything, the sea sweeps her away. Stig is in love. He writes a mushy love note to Ingrid and waits, and waits, and waits on the beach to see her. When he finally sees her, she’s too far away. He tries everything to reach her, but nothing works. There is only one thing left to do – venture into the sea. GASP! He finds a floaty and begins his journey to his love. It does not go well. Will Stig and Ingrid end up together? You’ll have to read this book about love, persistence, and overcoming fears to find out. 

Knight Owl

The day he is born, Owl knows he wants to become a knight – brave and clever. When knights begin disappearing from the castle, Owl applies to Knight School and is accepted. He is a good student, but because of his size, he has difficulty with his sword and shield. He graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. Other knights tend to fall asleep, but not Owl. He is perfect for the job. All goes well until he comes beak to snout with a hungry dragon who is looking for a snack. Being not only brave but clever, Owl outwits the dragon. Knights stop disappearing from the castle, and Owl is happy at his Knight Owl post with Dragon as his friend. This is a sweet book about following your dreams. 

Wild for Winnie

Winnie is not an ordinary classmate. She doesn’t quite fit in. Winnie does things that might be considered inappropriate in class. The teacher understands and suggests that the class give her a chance. For one week, the teacher guides the class with activities that help make Winnie feel more comfortable during the day. By the end of the week, everyone sees Winnie and their world a bit differently. Back matter has calming activities that can help kids who have difficulty settling down. Kudos to teachers who have the patience and wisdom to help all children fit in.

A Good Place

A bee, ladybug, beetle, and dragonfly are looking for a good place to live. They try and try, but they can’t find that special place. When they think they’ll never find a home, a butterfly surprises them with a perfect place. Vibrant colorful scenes add to the fun of this book.

Milk and Juice A Recycling Romance

Juice and Milk fall in love while in the refrigerator. But when Juice is empty, Juice ends up at the recycling center and is devastated. Juice keeps getting recycled into different bottles all while looking for Milk. True love is gone and Juice is in despair. After being recycled for a final time, who does Juice find? Milk! Juice and Milk are as close as ever. They have been recycled into a park bench – never to be parted again. A fun book about recycling with back matter to go along with it. 

Look for more delightful picture books next week.

Update on My Upcoming Picture Book

Posted June 16, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Nonfiction Picture Books, Writing Picture Books

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In case you didn’t know or have forgotten, I have a debut nonfiction picture book coming in spring of 2023 from Sleeping Bear Press. Working closely with my editor, we’ve tweaked the original text and title.

The New Title

Here’s a recap: Colonel Thomas S. Meacham, a veteran of the War of 1812 and a dairy farmer, living in Sandy Creek, NY, had a slice of an idea that grew into a colossal idea. In 1836, he gifted the President of the United States an enormous wheel of cheese that stood in the White House vestibule until March of 1837. In the interim, the cheese ripened and caused an overwhelming odor in and around the White House. At the end of his term in office, the president invited the public to the White House to “eat cheese” where chaos ensued. This is a quirky event in the history of the United States that will make your nose twitch and put a smile on your face.

My editor shared sketches created by the talented Lesley Breen which led to more research to check for accuracy. The designer is busy working on the layout of illustrations and text. Hopefully, I will have a cover reveal for readers in the coming months.

When I signed my contract, I thought 2023 seemed a long way off. I’ve learned that time flies trying to get everything done when creating a book. I’m now working on promotion ideas.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back with more news as it happens. Make sure to check out my author website: http://www.cathystefanecogren.com

More Great Picture Books

Posted June 9, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review, Picture Books

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If you go to your local library and take a good look at the children’s books available, you’ll find a treasure trove of delightful books to browse through. Here are three more that caught my eye.

Somewhere in the Bayou

In this humorous tale of a tail starring four friends, curiosity and wrong assumptions by the opossum, the squirrel, and the rabbit lead them to regret their decisions as they try to cross a river. The mouse, on the other hand, takes a different approach to the dilemma that proves to be a “lifesaver” with an unexpected ending.

Snail Crossing

A sweet and funny story of a snail who is “cabbage bound.” A truck, a troop of ants, and a crow are obstacles in Snail’s journey to cross a road to get a cabbage. When Snail gets turned around and ends up back where he began, the ants come to the rescue. Snail’s kindness to the pushy ants is repaid when the ants carry the cabbage across the road to Snail. This is a story of persistence, kindness, and new friends.

Some Daddies

Carol Gordon Ekster shows how special daddies are in her book, Some Daddies. She introduces different types of daddies. There are daddies that wear suits, daddies that wear uniforms, and daddies that wear comfy clothes. There are daddies that have beards, daddies that sing to you at bedtime, and daddies that hug you. As the author says, “Every daddy is different.” This book is a beautiful celebration of the diversity of daddies that extols all the things that make daddies special to the children who love them. If you’re looking for a perfect gift for Dad on Father’s Day, Some Daddies might be the one.

My Picture Books Reviews

Posted June 2, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

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It’s always a pleasure to discover new picture books. Here are a few of my recent finds.

The Creature of Habit

A big creature, living on an island, does the exact same thing every day. It never changes. When a little creature arrives at the island, the big creature teaches him exactly what to do each day. But there’s a problem. The little creature doesn’t follow the rules and does his own thing. The big creature watches and calls it “absolute madness.” When the little creature begins to offer little changes in the habits of the big creature, the big creature slowly finds pleasure in doing things differently. This creative book is a lesson to let your hair down and stop being a creature of habit.

Good Job, George!

George is a great helper. He does a good job – most of the time. But when he enters a newly painted room he was told not to enter, the dog follows him. Chaos! Disaster! George’s parents are not happy George didn’t listen. George realizes that sometimes the choices he makes do not always get a good job pat on the back.

Gladys The Magic Chicken

Gladys The Magic Chicken is a rollicking tale of a chicken who everyone believes is magic and will grant wishes. In each case, it appears Gladys does grant the wish, but does she really, or is it just coincidence? The story is a bit lengthy but it’s a fun-filled romp with Gladys leading readers on her adventures in ancient times.

The Digger and the Duckling

Digger, a big machine, and his crew love their work. Roll. Dig. Build. But when a little duckling shows up at their job site, they’re annoyed. The longer the duckling stays, the more she becomes a part of the big truck crew. As the seasons change, the duckling grows and flies south. The big trucks miss their friend and hope that one day she’ll return. Will she? This is a cute story of how a little duckling charms Digger and his crew.

Do you have any favorite current picture books?

Celebrate Memorial Day!

Posted May 26, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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Monday is Memorial Day. It is a national holiday to honor those who have perished in American wars. It was originally called Decoration Day which began during the Civil War in the 1860s. Flowers were used to decorate the graves of soldiers who died defending their beliefs in the early years of our country. After World War I, the name was changed to Memorial Day. Since 1971, it has been celebrated on the fourth Monday of May. Flags and flowers are still placed on graves to show respect and to remember our loved ones.

Check out these books honoring our veterans.

The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 

A Day for Rememberin’: Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day

Memorial Day is also the unofficial beginning of the summer season. Barbeques, parties, and family gatherings are all part of the celebration. Whatever you do, enjoy your day and…

Fly the stars and stripes!

It’s National Walnut Day!

Posted May 19, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Special Days

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Go nuts!

If you’re a health nut, then walnuts are for you. They are nutritious and delicious. Just a few of these nuts provide you with a whole list of healthful benefits.

Choose walnuts:

Rich in antioxidants and Omega 3s

Good for your gut

Helps with weight control

Good for healthy aging

Boosts brain function

If you’re hungry and need a tasty snack, grab a handful of walnuts to feed your hunger pangs and improve your well-being.

Go nutty today with some fun nut idioms and puns.

Idioms:

Tough nut to crack

Health nut

In a nutshell

From soup to nuts

Nuts about you

You drive me nuts

Get down to the nuts and bolts

A coffee nut

Puns:

Nut-thing lasts forever

Believe it or nut

Down, but nut out

Burn the midnut oil

The writing is on the wal-nut

A true treat on National Walnut Day is the book All from a Walnut by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

This is a beautiful and heartfelt multigenerational story. Grandfather tells Emilia the story of his journey across the ocean carrying only one bag and in his pocket, a walnut. That walnut seed planted many years ago is now a strong tree, towering above Emilia’s mother’s smaller tree. And now, Grandfather patiently teaches Emilia how to plant and care for the walnut she found. With each page turn, this story tugs at your heart as readers revel in the story of family, love, and life.  

The soft light of morning falls upon ripening forests of oak and elm, walnut and hickory, and all Nature is thoughtful and calm. – Author: John Muir

My Current Favorite Picture Books

Posted May 12, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review

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Each of these books touched my heart in different ways. They are well worth reading and sharing.

Once Upon a Forest

A beautifully illustrated, wordless book about two friends, a marmot and a bird, who work diligently to bring back the forest that has been destroyed by a wildfire. Day after day, season after season, they continue digging and planting little trees. Slowly, the trees reclaim their place in the forest. This is a perfect book to elicit discussions about protecting our natural resources and taking care of our earth.

Out of a Jar

Llewellyn is a bunny who doesn’t know what to do with feelings he doesn’t like. So, he puts them in a jar “and that was that.” But when there’s no more room in the jars, his feelings burst forth. Like the shattered jars, Llewellyn is broken. Eventually, he finds relief as he slowly learns how to “muster up the courage to feel them” and let his emotions go. Another perfect book for children who are having difficulty dealing with emotions and learning how to manage them. 

Eyes that Speak to the Stars

This is a companion book to Eyes that Kiss in the Corners. Beautiful lyrical language tells the story of a young Asian boy who is upset when a classmate draws a picture of him with lines as eyes. His father comforts the boy by having them look at their eyes in a mirror and saying, “Your eyes rise to the skies and speak to the stars…,” letting his son know that his eyes are special. This phrase is repeated throughout the book as the boy notices the similarities in his father, grandfather, and little brother’s eyes. Not only does he see the resemblances, but he comes to realize that their eyes are visionary and powerful. The captivating illustrations match the beauty of the words.

Brilliant Bea

Imagination plus dyslexia equals what? Bea! She is a little girl who has good intentions to learn, but her brain doesn’t listen which frustrates Bea. Luckily, Bea’s teacher encourages and supports her learning style. She gives Bea a recorder to tape her creative stories. Suddenly, Bea’s classmates listen to her stories and see a whole new person. Bea discovers “Learning differently wasn’t something to be afraid of anymore…” This is a great book to be shared with students who have dyslexia, learning challenges, and other students to help them understand that learning has its difficulties for everyone.
Back matter on dyslexia is included.

Creating a Picture Book

Posted May 5, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Creating a Picture Book

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After working for over two years on research, writing, and revising, my nonfiction picture book about Colonel Thomas S. Meacham and his “big cheese” was accepted for publication. It’s now in the works.

Here are just a few of the many things that need to be addressed: 

Tweaking text

Tweaking back matter

Tweaking the book title

Page count

Page layout

Designer input

Copyediting

Making sure illustrations are historically accurate without infringing on the creativity of the illustrator

Checking for kid-friendly vocabulary and appeal

Pacing

Page turns

All this takes time and careful consideration.

Luckily, I have a fabulous editor, a talented illustrator, and creative team members who are working together to make the best decisions to create a winning end product.

Stay tuned for more as my book moves along toward publication.

Its debut is in the spring of 2023!

Sick Day!

Posted April 28, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

I’m calling in sick today. My grandchildren gifted me with their colds. I have major brain fog. Sorry, no blog today!

Stay healthy.

I’ll be back next week!

Celebrate Earth Day!

Posted April 21, 2022 by Cathy Stefanec Ogren
Categories: Earth Day

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Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin came up with an idea to raise awareness of environmental issues. On April 22, 1970, Earth Day was born. Demonstrations took place across the United States to protect our planet Earth from pollution and deforestation. Groups picked up litter and planted trees. Earth Day is now an international celebration. About one billion people observe this day every year. There are many more things that humans can do to continue to protect our Earth. This year’s theme is “Invest in our Planet.” Do it!

Check out these picture books about our planet Earth.

All from a Walnut

One Million Trees

The Garden We Share

Hey, Water!

Emile and the Field

Ice! Poems About Polar Life

The Tide Pool Waits

Little Monarchs


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